After launching your blog, it’s your prerogative to let search engines know of its existence and that you want to be added to their index. To do so, you must create a sitemap. This post provides a bit of information about sitemaps, including how to generate a sitemap to submit to search engines.
How to Generate a Sitemap
Subsequent to your big launch, it’s important to focus a bit on the technical aspect of blogging. Most beginner bloggers unknowingly leave this step out because not much guidance was provided from the outset.
Sitemaps. That’s what this post will delve into. Anticipate learning what a sitemap is, whether or not you need a sitemap, and how to generate a sitemap to submit to search engines.
What Is a Sitemap?
A blog requires structure and organization as it grows. A sitemap provides just that. It’s a document or file that accounts for the contents of your blog and presents the information in an organized manner for search engines to scrutinize and add to a database.
This makes it easy for web crawlers to locate the pages on your website and index.
When a user searches for a query, results are returned based on the information Googlebots index and store from your website. Web crawlers search through the database and present the most relevant (and important) response for the search term.
An XML sitemap also provides metadata about your pages. A metadata is simply information about the pages you house on your website. This might include information such as:
- The type of content on a web page, including videos and images.
- The frequency at which your pages are
- The last time your web pages were updated.
- The significance of the page in relation to other pages on your website.
The type of metadata presented on a sitemap depends on the type of content. Video and image content might list different metadata.
Do You Need a Sitemap?
Short answer, no. Your website does not need a sitemap. A need signifies something that your blog cannot function without. You don’t need an XML sitemap, but it does enhance your blog.
Googlebots and other search engine crawlers can traverse the pages of your website without the submission of a sitemap. That is, of course, if the pages are linked properly.
While you don’t have to submit a sitemap, you should. A sitemap is like a blueprint or layout of your website’s structure. Once crawlers have access to that sitemap, they’re better able to crawl the contents of your website and store what they find to use later.
Notably, even after submitting a sitemap, search engines do not guarantee that all the pages of your website will be crawled.
To determine if you should submit a sitemap, consider the succeeding criteria:
- Your blog is new and contains little to no external links
The algorithm search engines use to crawl a website is complicated. As such, if your blog was recently launched, it’s best to create a sitemap. Why? It’s highly unlikely that you’ll have other blogs linking to your website after a launch.
Googlebots tend to crawl websites by following links. If there aren’t any inbound links (links pointing to your blog), your website might take longer to crawl. If your website takes a while to crawl, it’ll take a longer period of time to show up in search engine results. That means people won’t find your blog when a search is conducted.
- Your website’s content does not link to each other
This is especially the case when you’re not working with a niche blog. As mentioned previously, crawlers follow links. If the web pages on your blog interlink, it’ll be easier to crawl since they’ll follow a link from one page to the other. However, when they don’t link, some pages won’t be crawled.
- You have a large website
If you started out with a lot of blog posts and a fully functional, working website like I did, you need a sitemap. That is because crawlers might turn a blind eye to some of your website’s pages. This might especially happen with newer posts or those you’ve modified.
- Your blog is associated with sitemap compatible content
If you’re using rich media content and your content is displayed in Google News, you need to install a sitemap.
Generating a sitemap might take you a bit out of your comfort zone, but it doesn’t hurt your blog to submit one. I’d encourage you to submit one regardless of your blog’s disposition.
The following subhead deals with how to generate a sitemap to submit to search engines.
How to Generate a Sitemap to Submit to Search Engines
The best thing about generating a sitemap is that there’s no set (or single) way to get it done. You don’t need to worry about the technicalities or messing up. It’s that simple. Here’s how to generate a sitemap in two clear-cut ways.
Download the Yoast Plugin
Yoast is an exceptional SEO tool that does remove some of the technicalities of blogging. This is one of the easiest ways to generate a sitemap. Yoast does all the dirty work so you don’t have to.
Notably, Yoast’s sitemap generator feature does not play well with other XML sitemap generators. Stick to a single option. To download and install the Yoast SEO plugin, here’s what you do:
Maneuver to your plugins area in your dashboard and choose Add new.
Input Yoast SEO in the search box. Install and activate the plugin.
After installation, the Yoast icon will appear as an option on your blog’s backend.
Select the icon and then hit the “Features” button. Scroll down and locate the XML Sitemap option.
Ensure that it’s turned on. Once your XML sitemap is activated, hit the little question mark located next to the XML sitemap label.
An option will appear; click “see the XML sitemap”. You’ll then be taken to a page detailing all the sitemaps you have on your website. For more information on using Yoast sitemap, consult this article.
Use a Stand Alone Sitemap Generator Plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin is a great option and since it’s a premium plugin, I recommend that you use it on your blog for several reasons. You don’t necessarily need to look into other methods on how to generate a sitemap. However, for whatever reason you’re not able to use the Yoast SEO plugin, you can download and install a standalone XML sitemap generator.
Visit the plugins area from your blog’s dashboard. Add new plugin. In the search option, input Google XML Sitemap. Install and activate the plugin. Right after activating the plugin, your sitemap is created. The next step is to submit the sitemap to your search engines of choice.
By now, you’ve probably realized there are so many ways to generate a sitemap for your website. The list is inexhaustible. Don’t allow yourself to become confused. Stick with the aforementioned options and move on to tackling other aspects of your blog. Time is money, after all.
Did you benefit from the contents of this article on how to generate a sitemap? If you have, leave me a comment about how it worked out for you, or share the article with friends and family.
Until next, see you!
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